(ECNS) -- Tianjin’s adventurous senior divers decided to cease their river plunging at Shizilin Bridge on Wednesday due to growing safety concerns. Instead, they advocate for diving in controlled professional indoor venues.
The Tianjin Municipal Urban Management Committee announced maintenance plans for the bridge on the same day.
Originally composed of local swimming enthusiasts in Tianjin, the Shizilin Bridge diving teams, with an average age exceeding 60, have been diving for over three decades.
Similar to the barbecue trend in Zibo, Shandong Province, and the village super league of soccer in Guizhou Province, the senior divers in Tianjin have garnered significant attention in the local area, captivating tens of thousands of netizens.
However, the surging number of divers and onlookers has heightened risks, complicating possible rescue efforts.
Little Meizi, a 52-year-old Tianjin resident who gained online fame for his impromptu performances before diving, voiced the need for fewer onlookers, emphasizing the inherent risks of diving, particularly for the untrained.
Jiang Xu, captain of the Tianjin Blue Sky Rescue Team, reported rescuing approximately 20 people since Aug. 28 and pointed out the difference between swimming and diving.
Tianjin Municipal Urban Management Committee issued a notice concerning the maintenance of Shizilin Bridge on Wednesday night.
It highlighted severe corrosion of supporting angle steel, posing safety hazards like falling and electrical leakage. Streetlamps were temporarily disconnected, rendering the bridge's lighting inoperative.
"Since lighting repairs have already begun, access to the side with the wall railing would be restricted to prevent diving. Because the riveris in the navigation channel, with tourist boats passing through, swimming and diving are strictly prohibited here,"Jiang said.
He continued, "Back in the day, there were no swimming pools, so these elderly people learned to swim in the river. People from all over the country come to Tianjin with the idea of trying diving, but this trend has led to numerous dangers. So, these senior citizens made an impromptu decision to discontinue diving and urge everyone to refrain from participating."
Addressing the challenge of preserving diving's charm at Shizilin Bridge, renowned as a popular "internet-famous" destination, Wang Conghu, a professor at the School of Public Administration at Renmin University of China, emphasized the importance of legal compliance to maintain public order.
In this regard, Wang suggested that public areas be opened to citizens and overseen by professional organizations.
"We allow for street vending in some areas. Likewise, we should consider opening specific public spaces. Building upon this idea, we should encourage the involvement of social organizations, like swimming associations and free diving groups, to guide activities in areas appropriate for diving," he said.